Are probiotic-infused cocktails really healthier?

The power of good gut health is well known, so our experts break down how effective gut-busting ingredients are when mixed with your Friday night drinks.

Let’s face it, a night out on the town calls for a round of cocktails – or a mocktail if you’re the designated driver – and drinks that pack a probiotic punch are the hottest thing on the menu right now.

But you might be wondering whether your probiotic-infused cocktail really delivers health benefits.

What are probiotics?

Probiotics are microorganisms that live in our gut.

“They’re good bacteria that we get from food and particular vegetables that have been fermented,” explains nutritionist Christine Tadros.

“Two common types are called lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, and these keep the gut microbiome in good condition, helping with immune function, brain endurance, and to make us feel good generally.”

The rise of probiotic cocktails

With many people cottoning on to the perks of good gut health, the drinks market is currently exploding with new options claiming to contain gut-busting ingredients.

This includes soft drinks and mixers that make for tasty cocktail ingredients that contain kombucha and kefir water.

Tasty recipes popping up include kombucha gingerade, coconut kefir paloma, mango-rum kefir lassi, or vodka lime and kombucha, just to name a few.

There are even ice cubes fortified with probiotics, which can be added to any drink, from your morning fruit smoothie to your sunset mojito.

Do probiotic cocktails do your gut any good?

The short answer is no.

While cocktails made with fermented teas and probiotic supplements are on trend, there’s no evidence that they help your gut, or cure a hangover, according to our experts.

“I definitely think it’s a bit of fun,” Christine says.

“People feel better about drinking the cocktail because they think there’s something good in there.

“Having probiotics in your drink doesn’t do any harm, but it likely doesn’t have any benefits either because you’re reversing those effects with the alcohol in there, as alcohol negatively affects the gut microbiome.

“Plus, a kombucha, for example, while it is a good form of probiotics, sometimes it gets lost within the sugar content.”

Nutrition Australia dietitian Leanne Elliston agrees, saying many manufacturers exaggerate the benefits of the drink’s probiotic content.

“The company might have put some sort of probiotic into their drink, but it may not be the right quantity, or be an effective type of probiotic, or it won’t be able to make it to the lower gut,” Leanne says.

“People need to be mindful when it comes to marketing claims.”

For the best probiotic hit – rather than super-charging your cocktails – the experts say focus on improving gut health overall.

You can do this by adding yoghurt to your morning smoothie, drinking good-quality fermented milk, eating fermented foods such as tempeh and sauerkraut, or using a supplement that has proven effects.

Gut cocktail recipes to try

While experts are not sold on the benefits of gut cocktails, many recipes including probiotic ingredients are tasty and a nice break from the norm.

So, if you do want to give it a go here are some combinations to try.

Strawberry kombucha mojito

  • ¾ cup strawberries
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 30ml vodka
  • 90ml kombucha
  • Sparkling water
  • Ice
  • Crushed mint leaves

Kombucha Mexican mule

  • 30ml tequila
  • 10ml lime juice
  • 90ml ginger kombucha
  • 1 piece of fresh ginger

Mango rum kefir lassi

  • 30ml dark rum
  • 90ml water kefir
  • 60ml coconut water
  • ½ cup frozen mango
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • Dash of turmeric
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • Blend and add cinnamon powder for garnish

For more healthy gut and wellness advice, tune in to House of Wellness TV, Fridays at 2pm and Sundays at 12 noon on Channel 7.